24 August 2013

Mozambique: Renamo Wants a Blank Cheque, Accuses Guebuza

Photo: Aly Ramji / Mediapix
President Armando Emilio Guebuza of Mozambique

Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Friday accused the main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, of demanding that the government sign a blank cheque.

Speaking at a rally in Tsalala neighbourhood, in the southern city of Matola, as part of his “Open and Inclusive Presidency”, Guebuza spoke of the current dialogue between the government and Renamo. “They are demanding that the government accept everything they want, which is equivalent to signing a blank cheque and handing it over to them”, he said

In the talks, Renamo has demanded “a political agreement” with the government, but Guebuza said “it is practically impossible for the government to sign a political agreement which has no content. A political agreement which does not say what Renamo intends”.

“We are concerned to solve the problems that Renamo provokes”, he continued, “but we don't do that by signing a blank cheque”.

He recalled that Renamo has publicly said it wants to divide the country in two, and has also publicly confirmed that it was responsible for ambushes on the main north-south road, near the small town of Muxungue, in Sofala province, where vehicles were destroyed and civilians murdered. “Is this what we have to accept?”, asked Guebuza.

The President declared that independence, peace and national unity belong to Mozambicans collectively, and in no way should be made conditional by one person or a small group of people. “If we look back to the 1970s, we can understand better the importance of these gains which today are called into question”, he said. “Why should we make peace dependent on these people?”.

Responding to complaints of the population of Tsalala about the upsurge in violent crime, Guebuza said he agreed with the concern because any criminal act puts peace at risk. But he also condemned the way in which people in outlying neighbourhoods of Matola and Maputo have let themselves be deceived by rumour-mongers.

“The rumour-monger can take an ant and transform it into an elephant, and people fear the ant because they think it's an elephant”, he said.

Guebuza was referring to the spread of rumours about a mysterious criminal organization calling itself the “G20”, which has tortured its victims with a hot iron, and is held responsible for the current crime wave. But the police say they have no indication that such a group exists, and there is only one recorded instance of criminals attacking victims with an iron (in July, in the Matola neighbourhood of Sao Damaso).

Guebuza praised Tsalala residents for fighting against crime, but advised that this reaction should always be in close coordination with the police. “We must be organized so as not to allow the enemy to enter, using rumour to weaken us”, he said.

He was implicitly referring to the vigilante groups who have been patrolling Matola neighbourhoods, supposedly protecting them from criminals. But at least six innocent people have died because of the vigilante activity.

One woman who spoke at the rally. Angelina Jose, asked Guebuza to meet with Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, in order to avoid any more premature deaths. She said she had lost a son on an attack against an armoury of the Mozambican armed forces (FADM) in Dondo district, in the central province of Sofala, in June.

“We poor people are dying, Mr President”, she said. “Who will compensate me for the murder of my son whom I raised with much sacrifice?”

She also complained that the army took about a week before it informed her that her son was dead. To make matters still worse, her wages were docked at the company where she works, because she took more than the statutory five days off work to deal with her son's funeral. But she said this was because of the army's delay in transporting her son's body from Sofala to Maputo.

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